Ukraine’s top harpist to perform at North Wales festival

A HARPIST from Ukraine will perform at a music festival in North Wales, while asking people to donate money to her war-torn homeland.

Virtuoso Veronika Lemishenko will perform virtually at the Wales Harp Festival at Galeri Caernarfon and will be interviewed live via video link by the event’s artistic director, renowned harpist Elinor Bennett.

Ms Lemishenko had recently quit her job with the orchestra in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, after the country invaded her homeland.

The harpist was lucky to escape, with many Ukrainians being detained or arrested, as she managed to reach the airport and catch a flight.

His parents Alla and Yuri and his brother, Maksym, decamped to the city of Lviv in western Ukraine from their hometown of Kharkiv, which was devastated by shelling.

Other family members, close friends and musical associates take refuge in basements, struggling to find food and resources amid President Vladimir Putin’s ruthless invasion.

Veronika Lemishenko with artistic director Elinor Bennett at the Wales Harp Festival in 2018

Ms Lemishenko, 33, has performed at the Wales Harp Festival on several occasions, always representing Ukraine, including an appearance shortly after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, during which she wore a Ukrainian national costume for her performance.

This year’s festival will take place in Galeri from April 12-13 and will combine concerts with masterclasses and workshops, offering harpists of all ages and abilities the opportunity to learn from some of the best performers in the world.

Due to difficulties in arranging travel documents, organizers arranged for Veronika to pre-record a concert in Paris to be screened during the festival prior to the live interview.

Artistic director Elinor Bennett and her husband, Dafydd Wigley, have offered to open their home as a haven for Veronika’s family members, but are struggling to get the proper paperwork.

Ms Bennett said: ‘We are doing everything we can to help Veronika.

“She is such a brave force for good.

“His actions were incredible from the moment Putin’s violent aggression began.”

North Wales pioneer: Veronika's parents and their dog in an air-raid shelter in Kharkiv in FebruaryVeronika’s parents and their dog in an air-raid shelter in Kharkiv in February

Ms Lemishenko is currently on tour in European cities in Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Germany and France, where she organizes concerts and harp workshops with the aim of raising funds for destitute victims. of the Russian invasion.

She also established the Veronika Lemishenko Charity Foundation in cooperation with the Glowing Harp Festival which she had previously established in Kharkiv.

She said: “I think about my family every moment and try to talk to them and my friends who are in Ukraine or who have been forced to leave the country every day.

“The world needs to know that these atrocities are happening right now in the 21st century, people are dying senselessly before our eyes and we need to do everything we can to stop this monstrous aggression.”

North Wales pioneer: Veronika Lemishenko with her family, in simpler timesVeronika Lemishenko with her family, in simpler times

Before the war, Ms Lemishenko had planned, through her organization Glowing Harp, to organize a harp festival in Kharkiv in April, organized with her first harp teacher Larysa Klievtsova – a project which has now had to be abandoned.

Members of the Kyiv National Symphony Orchestra also offered their support, with the band still touring despite some of its musicians helping the country’s defense efforts.

Camac, a famous French harp maker, lets Veronika use their Paris studio to record her performance for screening at the Wales Harp Festival, where she will play three Ukrainian compositions: Dumka (Contemplation) by Vasyl Barvinsky; Memoir of Myroslav Skoryk; and Remembrance of his close friend and Glowing Harp composer-in-residence Evgen Andreev.

The Wales Harp Festival will be live for the first time since 2019 as the Covid-19 pandemic forced its cancellation two years ago and forced it to become a virtual event in 2021.North Wales Pioneer: The Wales Harp Festival will be held April 12-13 at Galeri CaernarfonThe Wales Harp Festival will be held April 12-13 at Galeri Caernarfon

The finale will see young harpist Gwenllian Llyr perform her own arrangement of a Welsh anthem, along with music created by Mared Emlyn.

Up-and-coming jazz harpist Benjamin Creighton-Griffiths will also perform with his band, the Transatlantic Hot Club.

Organized by Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (CGWM) since 1999, the Wales Harp Festival is now held annually and has also spawned the International Harp Festival, which is held every four years.

The theme for this year’s event is “Inspire, Heal, Renew!” “.

Ms Bennett said: “The theme was meant to be one of positivity as we negotiate a way out of the pandemic, but with the most tragic irony the world is now facing this terrible war.

“Veronika and her compatriots are symbols of light in this terrible darkness, working heroically to defeat the tyranny that envelops them and their families.

A call from Veronika Lemishenko on her YouTube page:

“She is one of the most accomplished young harpists in the world and considering all that she has been through, we feel deeply privileged to be able to include her performance at the festival.

“I implore people to watch and celebrate his efforts and support his foundation.”

To donate to the Veronika Lemishenko Charity Foundation, click here.

North Wales pioneer: #ThereWithUkraine#ThereWithUkraine

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